Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Leaving Santa Barbara...

In a way I've been afraid to blog for a while now... Because I know myself so well. I know how attached I get to my stories and that once they are typed I cannot NOT post them. And I've been crazy terrified of what stories I might decide to type. It's like I'm scared of our truth and the messiness of life and the last year because I haven't wanted to hurt or offend anyone.

Part of being married to a pastor, even being just the proverbial "youth pastor's wife" is knowing when to shut up. This is something that comes with the territory and has never been exactly in my wheel house.

I am going to write this from my perspective as a wife, mom, business owner, friend and lover of Jesus.

The last 8 months have been hard for us. Like tears and snot dripping from the nose hard (well that part's mainly been me).

Ending 2013 in Orcutt and starting 2014 in Santa Barbara, Shawn and I felt like we had the world at our finger tips. We may have been leaving our beloved Orcutt... A town we had grown fond of over 5 years; birthed both babies in, purchased a home in and had made life-long friends in... But we were moving to a place with "city life", the beach as our front yard and back in to the church denomination we came from- all things we yearned for.

The idea of Santa Barbara seemed perfect... Everything was looking up for us and the possibilities seemed endless. Location wise, it was an hour closer to our family in LA and it wasn't far from our friends in Orcutt- a win win all around.

Fast forward to now, 15 months later and bluntly put: Santa Barbara hasn't worked out for us. I feel like when I've said that statement to keep things light to those who've asked why we're moving... I get a look of complete bewilderment from a lot of people. Which I get... It's literally a gorgeous place to live (sandwiched between the beach and the mountains). "The Littlest Big City in the World" they say. How could you not be drawn to that, it all sounds likely perfect. Perfect... There is a lot of perfect in this town and well...

We are not perfect. We don't try to be perfect. We embrace the imperfect... Hell, we eat Hot N' Ready Pizza more times a month than I care to admit.

Making friends in this town (and I realize now that we were spoiled before) has been painfully hard. For two extroverts who were used to dinner in groups on average 2 times a week... This has been a downright lonely year for us.

As for the people we do call friends here, I am so thankful to have met you and shared church or Spanish Immersion or feeling like out-casts together. The few friends we've made have been life savers, and I truly mean that- you know who you are.

Overall though... In my 34 years of life, I have never felt like more of an outcast since moving here. It has rocked my confidence level in ways I can't explain. Walking in to my daughter's preschool has at times given me something a little short of a panic attack. Not that I don't love the teachers and the actual program... But going to the school has been like living in the movie Mean Girls. And I can't sit with them, just trust me. (Don't worry- they don't know I have a blog).

Moving on!

As much as I love our cute little bungalow home... Living in it the last 6 months has been the most one of the most unideal set ups a family of four (+ dog + classic car) could imagine. A few months after we moved in the house was sold to a new owner who decided adding a third house in between the front house (ours) and the back house would be a great idea. Our garage was torn down and we were completely stripped of our adorable backyard as scaffolding went up in it to build the new home. Yes, you can practically touch the home being built from our back porch. If you knew how much rent we paid for the area of Santa Barbara we live in, you'd likely laugh at us. And please don't ask why we didn't just buy a house... Google "Santa Barbara housing prices" for that answer. I don't want to say it was NEVER going to happen... but there was a 99.999% chance of that never ever happening. Like, ever.

My business has not "taken off" like we were sure it would. If anything- people from Orcutt like missed me or something and my clientele picked up there. Oh... The irony! I couldn't get people in Santa Barbara to hire me to save my life this last year. It is a very loyal customer base- if I heard this once I heard it a million times. "Once you're in, you're in"... "Give it three years" and "donate parties to the rich people"... Welp. No. None of those are going to work. It hasn't happened and it's been incredibly humbling.

Lastly... The job (Youth Pastor) Shawn came for. While in the end, Santa Barbara has not been the fit we were hoping for... I've learned a lot about my faith through the church and will never regret our decision to come here because of that.

As some of you know I was raised in a charismatic/fundamentalist church. In my late 20's and early 30's I came to resent so much of that fact. I decided I wanted to be, "the opposite kind of Christian" as the church I was raised in. I settled on loving God but [without realizing it completely] hating most Christians. I switched political parties, I stopped doing "cliche Christian things" (like Beth Moore studies)... I made a point to let people know that I was not one of "them". I became bitter towards "the Home School Christians", "the No-Harry-Potter-Christians", "The No-Santa Christians"... It is something I still struggle with but have come a long way with in the last year.

The church we came to Santa Barbara for did something no other church I've attended has done. It showed me a side of Christianity I wanted... And it did it in a healthy way. There wasn't hate or even strife towards the more conservative home-schooling, Santa, Christians... It just wasn't even in the culture of the church. The church embraced deep issues (much too deep for this blog) I hadn't seen Christians at a church I'd attended care about yet.

The problem is... I also learned this year that deep down in my soul- I am still a charismatic... Attending a hymn-loving traditional church. I have a NEED to clap my hands and raise them if I feel lead. I cannot control these aspects of my being, I try to and I fail. If you gave me a flag I cannot promise I would not wave that bad boy in to the air like I just don't care! (Well, maybe not now- but give me 30 years and I AM that lady).

Somehow (God probably had something to do with it) being in a liturgical church the last year has not made me bitter or hateful- it's just opened my eyes to the fact that there are indeed MANY different ways to worship. None is "right"... Just so so different.

I feel like this year has helped Shawn and I figure out our place in ministry and where God is calling us. This has not been an easy decision, if you knew how much I HATED moving you would understand even more how hard of a decision this was to make. It has come with tears and disagreements, utter confusion and so much prayer...

In the end we've decided to return home to the South Bay (Los Angeles) this summer and figure out our next steps there.

We have a road trip lined up after Cormac graduates Kinder- and we're planning to visit lots of friends all over the place. Cormac is on 3 Spanish Immersion waiting lists in the South Bay (none that will top his current school, Adalante Charter School!) and we're prayerful that the Lord will line something up after we return from the road.

If you think of us, we covet your prayers for strength in our marriage during the move (!!!), clarity with our next employment steps... and for our kids to not be totally screwed up from all of this moving.

We're excited for the next journey and looking forward to being near both of our families (babysitters galore, amen hallelujah) and connecting with all of our old friends and introducing our kids to their kids.

We're coming for you LA... I hope you're ready ;)

The O'Briens

(I've got to say that our landlord giving us a 60 Day Notice last night- with a move-out date of exactly Shawn's last day of work... Kind of a nice reminder that we're on the right track. Don't ever ask God for signs if you don't want them... Noted.)


  1. my sis-in-law texted me yesterday about your bunny shower and we both discussed how great it would be if you lived in houston and could plan all our parties... just saying... we have spanish immersion schools and charismatic churches and low low low cost of living and even some cool outcasts...

    1. So funny that you're saying this because you're literally on my list of people's home to hopefully crash at on our road trip- I mean friends I'm dying to visit... That might be a better way of saying it? So we may not be moving to TX permanently but we will be coming through! And I've heard TX is the #1 state for immersion! Everything is bigger is TX.

  2. Replies
    1. Omg back at you. Sorry if I've been a bad online bestie- so much going on in this head of mine lately!!

  3. We love and support you guys, and hopefully we'll be moving closer to you before too long! I hope I can make it down to visit soon, maybe April 14th or 16th?

    1. Yes I'm free both of those days- would love to discuss your "get-to-LA" plan. Or is that my plan FOR you...? It's all so confusing.

  4. SOUTHBAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. You are so AWESOME and inspirational!! <3 YA!

  6. Love this and happy to have you a little closer, blessings to you and your beautiful family :)

  7. I'm excited for you to have a fresh start and follow your hearts. Ultimately, there are conditions in our lives that we can change and adapt that will lead us towards happiness and fulfillment. Change is never easy, especially when it involves two kids but I am so proud of you for making the decision to move and I hope I see you during your crazy road trip this summer... xxx

    1. Thanks friend, hoping to for sure crash your pad on our trip if it all works out- would be way too much fun!

  8. This was great to read! I'm excited you guys will be coming home and look forward to hanging out with our families! If you need help with your business, just give me a call!

  9. I loved reading every word of this and am hoping that the CURTI FAM is included in those "life-long friends" that you built in your years in Orcutt!!! I feel sad that I did not know how much you had struggled to connect in SB.....but am so excited for this next phase of your journey...and love that you and your family are committed to the change! love love love you!!!! xoxo

  10. Excited for you in your new adventure! I can't wait to see what wonderful parties your will throw in LA. Can't wait to read about your road trip and your family's new adventures. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a beginner at "officially" party planning although I have been doing it for family for a very long time. I found your blog while searching for party ideas and really love how you write and share and I have gotten so much inspiration from you. I actually have been thinking about making serious life changes including relocating. I live in Philly and although the market is pretty competitive (which doesn't really bother me) it is not really welcoming to new entrants. I have been thinking about moving further south but life is like a chess game sometimes and I have to move strategically. I wish you and your family all the best and look forward to seeing more from you in the future.

  12. I really like your idea....:)


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